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Best VPN services of 2018: Reviews and buying advice

Choosing the right virtual private network (VPN) service is no simple task. A VPN should keep your internet usage private and secure, but not every service handles your data in the same way. Just look at the critiques of notable computer security experts and online pundits to understand the challenge.

(Want to know more about VPNs and what they can and can’t do? Skip down to our “What is a VPN?” section below.)

Since it takes research to find out if a VPN service has a history of good or bad behavior, we’ve done the legwork to find the best VPN out there. In order to win our seal of approval, the service has to protect online privacy; allow you to keep anonymity; offer a good variety of locations from which to direct your traffic; offer fast, reliable performance; and provide an easy-to-use interface.

If you’d like to have more flexibility and choose for yourself, we also offer our tips on what to look for in a VPN. Just keep reading past our Best VPN and Best VPN for U.S. Netflix recommendations. (And if you live in the United Kingdom and are looking for a VPN, check out VPN recommendations from our sister site, TechAdvisor.)

Links to full reviews of all the VPN services we tested can be found at the very bottom of the page. 

Updated 1/02/18 to reflect our new recommendation for Best VPN for U.S. Netflix. See why Windscribe Pro is a worthy option when you’re trying to catch U.S. from abroad. 

The best overall VPN

In truth, it’s hard to select the best overall VPN. Some services are weaker on privacy, but are significantly easier to use, while others could stand an interface redesign.

Nevertheless, the point of a VPN is to remain private and to have your internet activity kept as private as possible. For that reason, we’re choosing Mullvad as the best overall VPN (see our full review of Mullvad). The interface needs a lot of work, but the company does a great job at privacy. Mullvad doesn’t ask for your email address, and you can mail your payment in cash if you want to. Like many other VPNs, Mullvad has a no-logging policy and doesn’t even collect any identifying metadata from your usage.

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